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Oklahoma stumbles at Virginia Commonwealth

BY JOHN PACKETT, Special correspondent Published: November 22, 2009
RICHMOND, Va. — When Jeff Capel was the coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, he found out how hard it was to persuade a high-profile team from a BCS conference to come to the Siegel Center.

That’s because he was aware that it would be difficult for almost anyone to beat the Rams in their cozy little arena, especially when it was packed to the rafters.

Capel found out first-hand himself Saturday night, when he brought his 17th-ranked Sooners to the Broad Street facility, where VCU led from the opening tip in upsetting OU 82-69 before a sellout crowd of 7,527.

"I told our guys after we beat Lousiana-Monroe what this atmosphere would be like,” said Capel, who coached the Rams for four years before leaving for OU in 2006. "It’s different when it’s a big game here, too. That’s the way it was when I was here. It’s louder.

"Since I’ve left so many incredible things have happened here. The commitment from the students and the city of Richmond has continued to grow. I’ve always known it was a very difficult place to play, and our guys certainly know that now.”

It was the first loss for the Sooners after opening with a pair of victories at home.

Capel had been anxious to see how this team would react to a hostile road atmosphere, and he found out. The Sooners shot only 40.7 percent from the floor, which included a dismal 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) from behind the 3-point line.

"It was a good test for our team,” Capel said. "I don’t think we handled it particularly well. I thought we let our lack of making shots determine how the game was going. We could never defend well enough to really give ourselves a chance to get in the game.”

Making matters worse was the loss of sophomore guard Willie Warren, who slipped to the court with cramps early in the second half and was never the same thereafter.


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